Rentech coal-to-fuel may expand

Rentech coal-to-fuel may expand

Rentech Inc. plans to build a $1 billion coal-to-liquid fuel plant in southern West Virginia to take advantage of the area’s abundance of coal and mining infrastructure.

Denver-based Rentech and the public Mingo County Redevelopment Authority announced a joint development agreement this week that aims to build a plant that would employ up to 400 full-time workers by 2012.

The proposed plant would convert synthesis gas, a combination of hydrogen and carbon monoxide produced from coal, into 3 million to 9 million barrels of clean-burning transportation fuel per year, the redevelopment authority said.

Construction of the plant could take three to four years, said Mike Whitt, executive director of the redevelopment authority.

Rentech and the redevelopment authority plan to cooperate in developing, financing, owning and operating the plant. Whitt said the plant is designed to initially produce 10,000 barrels of fuel a day and then gradually move to 30,000 barrels.

In a company statement, Rentech President and CEO D. Hunt Ramsbottom said the natural resources and mining infrastructure of Mingo County made it a good location for such a project.

It comes on the heels of a venture announced in October that also will use Rentech’s technology. The $1.3 billion project to convert gas squeezed out of coal into diesel, naphtha and jet fuel is being developed south of Roundup, Mont.

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